By Femi Adekoya
The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has said it will disburse about $25 billion dollars in support of intro-African trade during the five years ending in 2021 under an Intra-African trade strategy it launched in 2016 in anticipation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Speaking during a special luncheon for heads of states and delegates attending the signing of the agreement for the launch of the AfCFTA in Kigali, President of the Bank, Dr. Benedict Oramah in a statement, said that the strategy drew inspiration from the African Union’s action plan for boosting intra-African trade and the action plan for accelerated industrial development in Africa.
According to him, the strategy sought to contribute to providing end-to-end and comprehensive solutions to smoothen the conduct of cross-border trade and investment activities across Africa.
The signing of the AfCFTA agreement promised to build a solid foundation for prosperity for all Africans, stated Dr. Oramah who added that “Afreximbank is, therefore, prepared, willing and able to play its role to make sure that opportunities created by the history-making step taken by African leaders are fully realized”.
He announced that, as part of the Intra-African trade Strategy, Afreximbank had opened credit lines amounting to $800 million to 55 banks across Africa in order to facilitate the confirmation of letters of credit in support of intra-African trade.
The Bank’s goal was to extend such lines to at least 500 banks in all African countries by 2021 in order to significantly reduce the cost of intra-African trade finance and to counter the constraints posed by country risks.
The President added that the inaugural Intra-African Trade Fair, which the Bank was organising in collaboration with the African Union in Cairo from 11 to 17 December, would attract more than 1,000 exhibitors and bring in some 70,000 visitors.
Afreximbank was also on the verge of launching an Intra-African Trade Platform that would facilitate the clearing and settlement of intra-African trade transactions in African currencies and significantly reduce the use of hard currencies in the settlement of such trade, Dr. Oramah added.
Earlier during a ceremony held at the Kigali Convention Centre, 44 African countries signed the Agreement Establishing the AfCFTA and 43 countries signed the Kigali Declaration for the Launch of the AfCFTA.
A third document, the Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community relating to Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment, garnered 25 signatures.